Hauptmann, Gerhart (15 November 1862 - 6 June 1946)
Gerhart Hauptmann (15 November 1862 - 6 June 1946)
Roy C. Cowen
University of Michigan
This entry has been expanded by Cowen from his Hauptmann entry in DLB 118: Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1889–1918. See also the Hauptmann entry in DLB 66: German Fiction Writers, 1885–1913.
BOOKS: Liebesfrühling: Ein lyrisches Gedicht (Salzbrunn: Privately printed, 1881);
Promethidenloos: Eine Dichtung (Berlin: Ißeib, 1885);
Das bunte Buch: Gedichte, Sagen & Märchen (Leipzig & Stuttgart: Meinhard, 1888);
Vor Sonnenaufgang (Berlin: Conrad, 1889); translated by Leonard Bloomfield as Before Dawn (Boston: Badger, 1909);
Das Friedensfest: Eine Familienkatastrophe. Bühnendichtung (Berlin: Fischer, 1890); translated by Janet Achurch and C. E. Wheeler as The Coming of Peace: A Family Catastrophe (Chicago: Sergel, 1900);
Einsame Menschen (Berlin: Fischer, 1891); translated by Mary Morison as Lonely Lives (New York: De Witt, 1898);
Der Apostel; Bahnwärter Thiel: Novellistische Studien (Berlin: Fischer, 1892); Bahnwärter Thiel translated by Adele S. Seltzer as “Flagman Thiel,” in Great German Short Novels and Stories, edited by Bennett A. Cerf (New York: Modern Library, 1933);
College Crampton: Komödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1892); translated by Roy Temple House and Ludwig Lewisohn as Colleague Crampton, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 3 (New York: Huebsch, 1914);
Die Weber: Schauspiel aus den vierziger Jahren (Berlin: Fischer, 1892); translated by Morison as The Weavers (New York: Russell, 1899); translated by F. Marcus as The Weavers (London: Methuen, 1980);
Der Biberpelz: Eine Diebskomödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1893); translated by Lewisohn as The Beaver Coat, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 1 (New York: Huebsch, 1912);
Hannele Matterns Himmelfahrt (Berlin: Fischer, 1893); republished as Hannele: Traumdichtung in zwei Teilen
(Berlin: Fischer, 1894); translated by William Archer as Hannele (London: Heinemann, 1894); translated by Charles Henry Meltzer as Hannele (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1908); original republished as Hanneles Himmelfahrt: Traumdichtung (Berlin: Fischer, 1896);
Florian Geyer (Berlin: Fischer, 1896); translated by Bayard Quincy Morgan as Florian Geyer, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 9 (New York: Viking, 1929);
Die versunkene Glocke: Ein deutsches Märchendrama (Berlin: Fischer, 1897); translated by Mary Harned as The Sunken Bell (Boston: Badger, 1898);
Fuhrmann Henschel: Schauspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1899); translated by Marion A. Redlich as Drayman Henschel (Chicago: Dramatic Publishing Co., 1910);
Helios: Fragment eines Dramas (N.p., 1899); translated by Lewisohn as Helios (Fragment), in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 7 (New York: Huebsch, 1917);
Michael Kramer: Drama in vier Akten (Berlin: Fischer, 1900); translated by Lewisohn as Michael Kramer, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 3 (New York: Huebsch, 1914);
Schluck und Jau: Spiel zu Scherz und Schimpf (Berlin: Fischer, 1900); translated by Lewisohn as Schluck and Jau, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 5 (New York: Huebsch, 1916);
Der rote Hahn: Tragikomödie in vier Akten (Berlin: Fischer, 1901); translated by Lewisohn as The Conflagration, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 1 (New York: Huebsch, 1912);
Der arme Heinrich: Eine deutsche Sage (Berlin: Fischer, 1902); translated by Lewisohn as Henry of Auë, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 4 (New York: Huebsch, 1915);
Rose Bernd: Schauspiel in fünf Akten (Berlin: Fischer, 1903); translated by Lewisohn as Rose Bernd, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 2 (New York: Huebsch, 1913);
Elga (Berlin: Fischer, 1905); translated by Harned as Elga (Boston: Badger, 1909);
Und Pippa tanzt! Ein Glashüttenmärchen in vier Akten (Berlin: Fischer, 1906); translated by Harned as And Pippa Dances (Boston: Badger, 1909);
Gesammelte Werke, 6 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1906);
Die Jungfern von Bischofsberg: Lustspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1907); translated by Lewisohn as The Maidens of the Mount, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 6 (New York: Huebsch, 1916);
Griechischer Frühling (Berlin: Fischer, 1908);
Kaiser Karls Geisel: Legendenspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1908); translated by Lewisohn as Charlemagne’s Hostage, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 5 (New York: Huebsch, 1916);
Griselda (Berlin: Fischer, 1909); translated by Alice Kauser as Griselda (Binghampton, N.Y.: Binghampton Book Manufacturing Co., 1909);
Der Narr in Christo Emanuel Quint (Berlin: Fischer, 1910); translated by Thomas Seltzer as The Fool In Christ Emanuel Quint (New York: Huebsch, 1911);
Die Ratten: Berliner Tragikomödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1911): translated by Lewisohn as The Rats, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 2 (New York: Huebsch, 1913);
Atlantis: Roman (Berlin: Fischer, 1912); translated by Adele S. Seltzer and Thomas Seltzer as Atlantis (New York: Huebsch, 1912);
Gabriel Schillings Flucht: Drama (Berlin: Fischer, 1912); translated by Lewisohn as Gabriel Schilling’s Flight, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 6 (New York: Huebsch, 1916);
Gesammelte Werke: Volksausgabe in 6 Bänden, 6 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1912);
Festspiel in deutschen Reimen (Berlin: Fischer, 1913); translated by Morgan as Commemoration Masque, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 7 (New York: Huebsch, 1917);
Lohengrin (Berlin: Ullstein, 1913);
Der Bogen des Odysseus (Berlin: Fischer, 1914); translated by Lewisohn as The Bow of Odysseus, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 7 (New York: Huebsch, 1917);
Parsival (Berlin: Ullstein, 1914); translated by Oakley Williams as Parsifal (New York: Macmilan, 1915);
Winterballade: Eine dramatische Dichtung (Berlin: Fischer, 1917); translated by Willa and Edwin Muir as A Winter Ballad, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 8 (New York: Huebsch, 1924);
Der Ketzer von Soana (Berlin: Fischer, 1918); translated by Morgan as The Heretic of Soana (New York: Huebsch, 1923; London: Secker, 1923);
Der weiße Heiland: Dramatische Phantasie (Berlin: Fischer, 1920); translated by Willa and Edwin Muir as The White Saviour, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 8 (New York: Huebsch, 1924);
Indipohdi: Dramatisches Gedicht (Berlin: Fischer, 1920); translated by Willa and Edwin Muir as Indipohdi, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 8 (New York: Huebsch, 1924);
Anna: Ein ländliches Liebesgedicht (Berlin: Fischer, 1921);
Peter Brauer: Tragikomödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1921);
Das Hirtenlied: Ein Fragment (Berlin: Holten, 1921); translated by Lewisohn as Pastoral (Fragment), in TheDramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 7 (New York: Huebsch, 1917);
Für ein ungeteiltes deutsches Oberschlesien: Öffentliche Protestversammlung zu Berlin (Berlin: Zentralverlag, 1921);
Sonette (Berlin: Voegel, 1921);
Deutsche Wiedergeburt: Vortrag (Vienna: Heller, 1921);
Gesammelte Werke: Groβe Ausgabe, 12 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1922);
Ruβland und die Welt, by Hauptmann, Fridtjof Nansen, and Maksim Gorki (Berlin: Verlag für Politik und Wirtschaft, 1922);
Phantom: Aufieichnungen eines ehemaligen Sträflings (Berlin: Fischer, 1923); translated by Morgan as Phantom (New York: Huebsch, 1922; London: Secker, 1923);
Fasching (Berlin: Holten, 1923);
Ausblicke (Berlin: Fischer, 1924);
Festaktus zur Eröffnung des Deutschen Museums, text by Hauptmann, music by H. Zilcher (Munich: Knorr&Hirth, 1925);
Die Insel der Groβen Mutter oder Das Wunder von I’le des Dames (Berlin: Fischer, 1925); translated by Willa and Edwin Muir as The Island of the Great Mother; or, The Miracle of I’ie des Dames (New York: Huebsch, 1925);
Veland: Tragödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1925); translated by Edwin Muir as Veland, in The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, edited by Lewisohn, volume 9 (New York: Viking, 1929);
Dorothea Angermann: Schauspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1926);
Die blaue Blume (Berlin: Fischer, 1927);
Till Eulenspiegel: Ein dramatischer Versuch (Leipzig: Klinkhardt, 1927);
Des groβen Kampffliegers, Landfahrers, Gauklers und Magiers Till Eulenspiegel Abenteuer, Streiche, Gaukeleien, Gesichte und Träume (Berlin: Fischer, 1928);
Gedanken an Walther Rathenau, by Hauptmann, Wilhelm Marx, Arnold Brecht, and Edwin Redslob (Dresden: Reinßner, 1928);
Ansprache bei der Eröffnung der internationalen Buchkunst-Ausstellung Leipzig (Leipzig, 1928);
Wanda (Der Dämon): Roman (Berlin: Fischer, 1928);
Der Baum von Gallowayshire (Heidelberg: Kampmann, 1929);
Spuk: Die schwarze Maske, Schauspiel; Hexenritt: Ein Satyrspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1929);
Buch der Leidenschaft, 2 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1930); Drei deutsche Reden (Leipzig: Gesellschaft der Freunde der Deutschen Bücherei, 1930);
Die Spitzhacke: Ein phantastisches Erlebnis (Berlin: Fischer, 1931);
Die Hochzeit auf Buchenhorst: Erzählung (Berlin: Fischer, 1932);
Vor Sonnenuntergang: Schauspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1932);
Um Volk und Geist: Ansprachen (Berlin: Fischer, 1932);
Das dramatische Werk: Gesamtausgabe zum siebzigsten Geburtstag des Dichters, 2 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1932);
Die goldene Harfe: Schauspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1933);
Das Meerwunder: Eine unwahrscheinliche Geschichte (Berlin: Fischer, 1934);
Hamlet in Wittenberg: Schauspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1935);
Das epische Werk, 2 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1935);
Im Wirbel der Berufung: Roman (Berlin: Fischer, 1936);
Das Abenteuer meiner Jugend, 2 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1937);
Ährenlese: Kleinere Dichtungen (Berlin: Fischer, 1939);
Die Tochter der Kathedrale: Schauspiel (Berlin: Fischer, 1939);
Ulrich von Lichtenstein: Kombödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1939);
Iphigenie in Delphi: Tragödie (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1941);
Der Schuβ im Park: Novelle (Berlin: Fischer, 1941);
Der Dom (Dramenfragment) (Chemnitz: Gesellschaft der Bücherfreunde, 1942);
Magnus Garbe: Tragödie (Berlin: Fischer, 1942);
Der groβe Traum: Dichtung (Leipzig: Insel, 1942); enlarged edition, edited by Hans Reisiger (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1956);
Das gesammelte Werk: Ausgabe letzter Hand zum achtzigsten Geburtstag des Dichters, 17 volumes (Berlin: Fischer, 1942);
Der neue Christophorus: Ein Fragment (Weimar: Gesellschaft der Bibliophilen, 1943); enlarged, edited by H.-E. Hass (Berlin: Propyläen, 1965);
Iphigenie in Aulis: Tragödie (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1944);
Neue Gedichte (Berlin: Aufbau, 1946);
Die Finsternisse: Ein Requiem, introduction by Walter A. Reichart (Aurora, N.Y.: Hammer, 1947);
Mignon: Novelle (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1947);
Agamemnons Tod; Elektra: Tragödien (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1948);
Galahad oder Die Gaukefuhre: Dramatische Fragmente, edited by C. F. W. Behl (Lichtenfels: Fränkische Bibliophilengesellschaft, 1948);
Die Atriden-Tetrahgie: Tragödie (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1949);
Herbert Engelmann: Drama in vier Akten, Aus dem Nachlaβe, completed by Carl Zuckmayer (Munich: Beck, 1952);
Winckelmann: Das Verhängnis. Roman, edited and completed by Frank Thiess (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1954);
Der groβe Traum, edited by Reisiger (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1956);
Sämtliche Werke: Centenar-Ausgabe zum hundertsten Geburtstag des Dichters 15. November 1962, edited by Hass, Martin Machatzke, and W. Bungies, 11 volumes (Frankfurt am Main & Berlin: Propyläen, 1962–1974);
Italienische Reise: Tagebuchaufzeichnungen, edited by Machatzke (Berlin: Propyläen, 1976);
Diarium 1917 bis 1933, edited by Machatzke (Berlin: Propyläen, 1980);
Notix-Kalender 1889 bis 1891, edited by Machatzke (Frankfurt am Main, Berlin & Vienna: Propyläen, 1982);
Tagebuch 1892 bis 1894, edited by Machatzke (Frankfurt am Main, Berlin & Vienna: Propyläen, 1985);
Tagebucher 1897–1905, edited by Machatzke (Frankfurt am Main: Propyläen, 1987).
Edition in English: Before Daybreak, translated by Peter Bauland (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978).
PLAY PRODUCTIONS: Vor Sonnenaufgang, Berlin, Lessingtheater, 20 October 1889;
Das Friedensfest, Berlin, Ostendtheater, 1 June 1890;
Einsame Menschen, Berlin, Residenztheater, 11 January 1891;
Kollege Crampton, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 16 January 1892;
Die Weber, Berlin, Neues Theater, 26 February 1893;
Hanneles Himmelfahrt, Berlin, Königliches Schauspielhaus, 14 September 1893;
Der Biberpelz, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 21 September 1893;
Florian Geyer, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 4 January 1896;
Die versunkene Glocke, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 2 December 1896;
Fuhrmann Henschel, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 5 November 1898;
Schluck und Jau, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 3 February 1900;
Michael Kramer, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 21 December 1900;
Der rote Hahn, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 27 November 1901;
Der arme Heinrich, Vienna, Hofburgtheater, 29 November 1902;
Rose Bernd, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 31 October 1903;
Elga, Berlin, Lessingtheater, 4 March 1905;
Und Pippa tanzt! Berlin, Lessingtheater, 19 January 1906;
Die Jung fern von Bischofsberg, Berlin, Lessingtheater, 2 February 1907;
Kaiser Karls Geisel, Berlin, Lessingtheater, 11 January 1908;
Griselda, Berlin, Lessingtheater, and Vienna, Hofburgtheater, 6 March 1909;
Die Ratten, Berlin, Lessingtheater, 13 January 1911;
Gabriel Schillings Flucht, Bad Lauchstedt, Goethes Theater, 14 June 1912;
Festspiel in deutschen Reimen, Breslau, Jahrhunderthalle, 31 May 1913;
Der Bogen des Odysseus, Berlin, Deutsches Künstlertheater, 17 January 1914;
Winterballade, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 17 October 1917;
Der weiβe Heiland, Berlin, Großes Schauspielhaus, 28 March 1920;
Peter Brauer, Berlin, Lustspielhaus, 1 November 1921;
Indipohdi, Dresden, Staatliches Schauspielhaus, 23 February 1922;
Festaktus zur Eröffnung des Deutschen Museums in München, Munich, Deutsches Museum, 7 May 1925;
Veland, Hamburg, Deutsches Schauspielhaus, 19 September 1925;
Dorothea Angermann, Vienna, Theater in der Josefstadt; Munich, Kammerspiele; Leipzig, Schauspielhaus; Brunswick, Landestheater; and thirteen other theaters, 20 November 1926;
Shakespeare: Hamlet, adapted by Hauptmann, Dresden, Staatliches Schauspielhaus, 8 December 1927;
Spuk: Die schwarze Maske and Hexenritt, Vienna, Burgtheater, 3 December 1929;
Vor Sonnenuntergang, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 16 February 1932;
Die goldene Harfe, Munich, Kammerspiele, 15 October 1933;
Hamlet in Wittenberg, Leipzig, Altes Theater; Altona, Stadttheater; and Osnabrück, Deutsches National-theater, 19 November 1935;
Die Tochter der Kathedrale, Berlin, Staatliches Schauspielhaus, 3 October 1939;
Ulrich von Lichtenstein, Vienna, Burgtheater, 11 November 1939;
Iphigenie in Delphi, Berlin, Staatliches Schauspielhaus, 15 November 1941;
Iphigenie in Aulis, Vienna, Burgtheater, 15 November 1943;
Agamemnons Tod and Elektra, Berlin, Deutsches Theater, 10 September 1947;
Herbert Engelmann, adapted by Carl Zuckmayer, Vienna, Akademietheater, 8 March 1952;
Die Finsternisse, Göttingen, Studio, 5 July 1952;
Magnus Garbe, Düsseldorf, Schauspielhaus, 4 February 1956;
Herbert Engelmann (original version), Putbus/Rügen, Theater, 12 November 1962.
OTHER: Herman Georg Fiedler, ed., The Oxford Book of German Verse, foreword by Hauptmann (London: Oxford University Press, 1911);
William Shakespeare, Die tragische Geschichte von Hamlet Prinzen von Dänemark in deutscher Sprache, translated and adapted by Hauptmann (Weimar: Cranachpresse, 1929);
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Werke, 2 volumes, introduction by Hauptmann (Berlin: Knaur, 1931).
SELECTED PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS–UNCOLLECTED: “Deutschland und Shakespeare,” Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, 51 (1915): vii–xii;
“Hamlet: Einige Worte zu meinem Ergänzungsversuche,” Sächsische Stadttheater: Schauspielhaus Dresden 1927 (1927);
“Goethe,” Germanic Review, 7 (1932): 101–122;
“Die Wiedertäufer: Romanfragment,” Gerhart Hauptmann-Jahrbuch, 1 (1936): 12–37;
“Über Tintoretto,” Die neue Rundschau, 49 (1938): 209–226;
‘Johann Winckelmanns letzte Jahre: Novelle (Fragment),” Das XX. Jahrhundert, 2 (1940): 331–334, 337;
“Das Märchen,” Die neue Rundschau, 52 (1941): 686–694;
“Die Wiedertäufer,” Die neue Rundschau, 53 (1942): 488–494.
When dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann became the thirteenth recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1912, only two of his predecessors (Rudyard Kipling in 1907 and Maurice Maeterlinck in 1911) had received this recognition at an earlier age. Yet, as deserving as Hauptmann’s achievements and reputation had already made him, his success cannot be attributed to an unusually early or even exclusive interest in literature. Hauptmann had first attempted to express himself artistically as a sculptor. But once he had discovered his literary talents, he explored all possible literary forms: novellas, novels, epics and lyrical poetry, and drama. While he had artistic and popular success with his novellas and novels, Hauptmann achieved his broadest recognition as a playwright. He rapidly became the most prolific and most imitated dramatist since Friedrich Schiller, whose plays dominated German thinking about this genre up to the advent of naturalism. Without its success on the stages in Berlin, naturalism would probably have remained only a mildly disruptive occurrence on the German literary scene; and this success would have been impossible without Hauptmann’s plays. On the other hand, without the emergence of naturalism, Hauptmann might never have found the proper vehicle for his talents, let alone gained such prominence and influence.
Hauptmann remains for most theatergoers and literary historians alike the outstanding representative of strongly realistic, character-oriented, socially critical plays. Not only did he achieve his first triumphs with them, but he continued to succeed in writing such dramas-interspersed with works in other genres and modes-long after radical realism had ceased to be in fashion. He gradually expanded the potential of realistic drama far beyond that recognized by his contemporaries during and after the period of naturalism. He accommodated it to his own changing views of human existence and incorporated into it elements of such subsequent developments as neo-Romanticism, symbolism, Jugendstil (art nouveau), and expressionism.
His parents, Robert and Marie Straehler Hauptmann, who already had three other children–Georg, Johanna (Lotte), and Carl–have never been viewed as being directly influential on the later artistic success of their youngest child, who was born on 15 November 1862 and was baptized Gerhard [sic] Johann Robert Hauptmann in 1863. Nor did his formal education contribute much to his achievements. Hauptmann’s elementary schooling, which began in his birthplace, Ober-Salzbrunn (now Szczawno, Poland), and continued in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), ended abruptly in 1878 as a consequence of his father’s loss of the resort hotel he owned.
Nonetheless, the indirect influence of these early years proved to be lasting. Hauptmann gained literary immortality through his depiction of flesh-and-blood characters from all classes and environments. In his diary he wrote on 29 November 1898: “Erst Menschen, hernach das Drama. An ein Drama von Puppen kann niemand glauben” (First the people, then the drama. No one can believe a drama of puppets). Hauptmann was convinced that realistically portrayed characters would necessarily evoke a plot, and he always made his characters as heterogeneous as possible. At his father’s hotel he was exposed as a child to just such a mixed bag of social classes, the wealthy bourgeoisie and members of the German, Polish, and Russian nobility. Ober-Salzbrunn, situated in a rural area, provided Hauptmann’s first contact with simpler people and farmers, which was augmented in 1878 and 1879 by his work as an agricultural trainee on the estates of his uncle Gustav Schubert in Lohning and Lederose. During his formative years Hauptmann made the acquaintance of many people who later provided models for literary characters, such as Alfred Ploetz, who was a close friend for many years and served as the model for Loth in Vor Sonnenaufgang (1889; translated as Before Dawn, 1909), Alf in Helios (1899; translated, 1917), and Schmidt in Atlantis (1912; translated, 1912). Since these characters, albeit based on one real person, are so different, it is obvious that Hauptmann, when drawing on people he had known, utilized only those traits he needed or could show within the confines of a given work.
In 1880 Hauptmann resumed his formal education at the Royal Art and Trade School in Breslau. He also tried his hand at writing; his products-poems, an alliterative epic, and several dramatic fragments-all betray the then-fashionable obsession with the Germanic and the influence of the very writers against whom the naturalists soon took up arms. His efforts in art school resulted in failure and expulsion. He then began private instruction with the sculptor Robert Haertel, who first helped him to reenter the art school and then assisted him in enrolling at the University of Jena, where Hauptmann heard lectures by such eminent scholars as Rudolf Eucken and Ernst Haeckel. His studies remained unsystematic and ended after a year.
In 1883 his fiancée, Marie Thienemann, whose sisters married his brothers Georg and Carl, financed Hauptmann’s trip to the Mediterranean; among the cities he visited were Málaga, Barcelona, Marseilles, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, and Florence. He went back to Germany only to return soon afterward to Rome, where he took up residence as a sculptor. But his efforts ended in failure in 1884, and six weeks of study at the Dresden Academy of Arts in the summer of that year likewise produced nothing. Two semesters at the University of Berlin in 1884 and 1885 provided no academic inspiration; thereafter, Hauptmann turned once and for all to creative writing.
In retrospect one can recognize that academic success would have had little direct effect on his eventual achievement, for Hauptmann’s most salient asset proved to be his ability to observe and listen to the persons around him as human beings, not as representatives of ideas. In his greatest plays Hauptmann does let his characters express ideas and principles that transcend their immediate situations; nonetheless, these ideas are not necessarily Hauptmann’s own beliefs. Instead, they are means of portraying a character with a definite personality and sometimes quite distinct views. Moreover, Hauptmann never produced any theoretical writings of significance on his own or other writers’ works. Art as life, not as art or as a vehicle for his own philosophical notions, remained his strength. Yet, the lack of a formal education left its mark on Hauptmann, who developed typically autodidactic strengths and weaknesses: great learning and many allusions in his works to both well-known and obscure subjects that serve primarily intuitive associations, not a systematic, logical approach.
On 5 May 1885 Hauptmann married Thienemann and moved with her to Berlin. In September they moved to Erkner, a suburb of Berlin, where Hauptmann met many of the people who reappeared in his plays. He also encountered young writers such as Max Kretzer (later called the “Berlin Zola”); Wilhelm Bölsche, whose Die naturwissenschaftlichen Grundlagen der Poesie (1887, The Scientific Foundations of Literature) became one of the most important manifestos of German naturalism; and Bruno Wille, a strong advocate of the Social Democratic Party. Since 1884 Hauptmann had been taking acting lessons from Alexander Heβler, who provided the model for the politically and artistically conservative theater director Hassenreuter in Die Ratten (1911; translated as The Rats, 1913). This instruction, which lasted until 1886, offered Hauptmann insights into conventional modes of acting and the practical demands of the theater, but also, as Die Ratten reveals, into those artificial aspects of traditional theater against which his own first plays were directed. In his mature years Hauptmann directed many of his own and other playwrights’ works, and he always demonstrated a concern for the practicalities of the stage.
In 1887 Hauptmann visited the new literary club “Durch” (Through), where he met more representatives of what later became known as naturalism. Although the theoretical discussions of this club-like those of the others springing up all over Berlin at that time-achieved little more than to keep alive the younger generation’s demand for a new, modern, realistic literature, Hauptmann made an outstanding contribution befitting his own nontheoretical, practice-oriented thinking: he read to the members from the little-known works of Georg Büchner, one of the most important precursors of naturalism and subsequent literary movements such as expressionism and the theater of the absurd. Also in 1887 Hauptmann wrote his first two successful novellas. Fasching (Carnival) was based on a newspaper account and appeared in 1887 in Siegfried, an obscure magazine (it was published in book form in 1923). Bahnwärter Thiel, (1892; translated as “Flagman Thiel,” 1933) appeared in 1888 in the first important journal of naturalism, Die Gesellschaft (Society), founded in 1885 in Munich. Bahnwärter Thiel, strongly influenced by Büchner, proved to be a masterpiece and is still read in schools.
Always interested less in the rational side of humanity than in its irrational side–emotions, psychological problems, and mystical leanings–Hauptmann spent several weeks in 1888 studying under Auguste Forel, a prominent psychiatrist and director of a clinic in Zurich. There Hauptmann also associated with the playwright Frank Wedekind, who later accused Hauptmann of using in Das Friedensfest: Eine Familienkatastrophe (1890; translated as The Coming of Peace: A Family Catastrophe, 1900) intimate details he had recounted from his own life. Wedekind sought revenge in his comedy Die junge Welt (1898, The Young World), in which he satirized Hauptmann’s “notebook” technique and naturalism in general.
The year 1889 was a turning point in the development of naturalism and also in Hauptmann’s career. Until then, Munich had been the most important city for German naturalism. From then on, however, Berlin played this role. This change was not caused by a lack or waning of enthusiasm in the Bavarian capital. Instead, the shift in influence has to be attributed to the inability of the writers there to develop the truly new and revolutionary approach to literature for which they had themselves been clamoring. For his part, Hauptmann, although living elsewhere, also seemed to lack direction. He had tried several genres, and not totally without success. Still, along with the relative achievements of Fasching and Bahnwärter Thiel, he had also published in 1885 the formally unremarkable epic poem Promethidenloos, about a disillusioned, Byronic character, and in 1888 Das bunte Buch, a collection of poems dating back to the previous decade.
For most people, Hauptmann’s name is synonymous with German naturalism. The twenty-first-century reading public encounters him first and perhaps solely as the author of Bahnwärter Thiel, a brilliant psychological study of the conflict leading to the tragic end of Thiel, a solitary, withdrawn, and socially insignificant switchman. Arguably, this novella already incorporates many motifs, values, and goals that recur not only in several of Hauptmann’s plays but also, albeit in varying forms, in much of subsequent naturalist literature. There is, for example, the eternal conflict between the spiritual and the earthy: Thiel cannot free himself from the sexual attraction exercised by his second wife, while he constantly tortures himself with memories of his first wife as an ethereal vision. Yet, despite all that is unquestionably new and led to Bahnwärter Thiel being published by a journal devoted to “modern” literature and life, much in the style of this novella is still indebted to the works of the so-called realists of the previous generation. Hauptmann, like the entire naturalist movement in Germany, was destined by what was happening in Berlin to shift attention almost exclusively to drama. To be sure, Hauptmann continued showing confidence as a writer of verse by using it after 1889 in several plays. But he published only one other nondramatic work for almost two decades: the novella Der Apostel (The Apostle), which appeared in the periodical Moderne Dichtung in 1890 and as a book in 1892. It draws heavily on experiences acquired during his visit to Zurich in 1888 and, like Bahnwärter Thiel, has its roots in Büchner’s novella Lenz (1839).
The first of the crucial events of 1889 was the publication of one of the most radically “realistic” prose works thus far seen in Germany: the short-story collection Papa Hamlet, by Arno Holz and Johannes Schlaf. Until then, Hauptmann had been reading the works of foreign models for the new “realists” (the German naturalists seldom called themselves “naturalists”): Leo Tolstoy, Emile Zola, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Walt Whitman. Admittedly, Hauptmann never went to the same stylistic extremes. But what was revolutionary in Holz’s and Schlaf’s stories, which they called “studies,” was also what propelled the naturalists in general toward the stage. As far as possible, these two writers tried to eliminate all traces of the subjective, personal narrator implicit even in realistic storytelling by reducing the texts to stream of consciousness, direct dialogue, and onomatopoeia, that is, the replication of sounds made by inanimate objects such as dripping water and a ringing doorbell. In short, these “studies,” by recounting “second for second,” became miniature, one-act dramas.
The second significant event was the founding of the “Freie Bühne” (Free Stage), a club devoted to the performance of “modern” (naturalist) drama (a year later a periodical by the same name was founded, which later became Die neue Rundschau [The New Review]; one member of the board was Samuel Fischer, whose publishing house brought out many plays of the young naturalists and published Hauptmann’s works for many years). Its first chairman was Otto Brahm, who developed the naturalist style of stage direction and production that dominated German theater until the end of the century. Since the Freie Bühne was a private club, it could stage plays forbidden by the censor. With an eye for a proven theatrical success, Brahm began on 15 September 1889 with a production of Ghosts (1881), by Henrik Ibsen, whose A Doll’s House (1879) had already become a rallying point for advocates of women’s emancipation. In August 1889 Hauptmann’s first mature, modern play, the social drama Vor Sonnenaufgang, had been published in Berlin and had caught the attention of many literary figures there. Needing a German playwright to make his undertaking a success, Brahm premiered Hauptmann’s play on 20 October 1889. The work launched not only a series of imitations but also a frenzied conflict between conservative forces and the naturalists.
In some respects Vor Sonnenaufgang incorporates the innovations of Ibsen that characterize much of subsequent German naturalist drama; in other respects, however, Hauptmann goes far beyond Ibsen both in subject and in style. Ibsen’s influence can be seen in the structure, which uses “analytic exposition”–the practice of beginning with a situation and gradually exposing what has led to it. A second technique, closely allied with the first and likewise perfected by Ibsen, is the use of a “messenger from the outside,” a stranger who serves as a catalyst for the analytic exposition, sometimes without intending to do so. Alfred Loth, a journalist with an education in sociology and economics and an impassioned believer in social justice, abstinence, and the power of heredity, arrives at the farm of the Krause family, which has suddenly become wealthy through the discovery of coal and the exploitation of the other residents of the area. Loth looks up his old friend from his university days, the engineer Hoffmann. This reunion provides a “realistic” setting for revelations regarding their respective activities and changes in character since they last met: Loth’s abortive attempt to establish a utopian community in the New World resulted in his imprisonment for supposedly collecting money for the socialists; Hoffmann, who now denies ever sharing Loth’s idealism, has by devious means married into the Krause family and has been the driving force behind the manipulation and exploitation of the farmers and workers.
Loth falls in love with Helene, Hoffmann’s sister-in-law, who is apparently the sole uncorrupted member of the household. She falls in love with him, seeing in him the opportunity to escape her situation. But through Dr. Schimmelpfennig, another former friend from the university, Loth learns that Helene’s sister and father are alcoholics. Believing first in his social mission, which includes not only the emancipation of women but also the responsibility of handing down healthy genes to future generations, Loth writes a note to Helene and leaves. True to naturalist principles, Hauptmann strives for the greatest possible realism, which does not allow him to reveal any more about a character’s thoughts and motives than a real person would reveal under the given circumstances. Thus, the characters are trapped in a closed, almost suffocating atmosphere, and the audience must watch for subtle gestures or chance words to gain insights into their various motives and intentions. Personalities, not principles, evoke most of the conflicts. Loth’s fanaticism, coupled with his inability to effect any social reform, removes him from the conventional role of the playwright’s spokesman. The play has remained a subject of lively critical debate mainly because of the questionable motives of the characters. In fact, Hauptmann scarcely ever created a “hero” or “heroine” who might be interpreted as his spokesperson; at the same time, as he himself said, he never created a true “villain.”
What distinguishes Vor Sonnenaufgang from Ibsen’s plays is, first, the frankness and crassness with which sexuality and other manifestations of decadence and moral corruption are presented, as when Helene’s drunken father grasps her in a lustful manner. Many contemporary naturalists in Germany had been calling for “truth” rather than beauty, and Hauptmann’s play seems to respond to this demand. Second, Hauptmann incorporates working-class and rural characters and lets them speak in dialect, a device he also uses with the Krause family to reveal how thin the veneer of culture acquired through wealth is. Hauptmann reveals his models for these innovations in his autobiography, Das Abenteuer meiner Jugend (1937, The Adventure of My Youth): “Dieses Drama würde ohne Thérèse Raquin von Zola, ohne die Macht der Finsternis von Tolstoi und die Vehemenz des Buches der Zeit und seines Dichters wohl kaum entstanden sein” (This play would probably never have come about without Thérèse Raquin by Zola, The Power of Darkness by Tolstoy and the vehemence of the Book of Time and its author [Arno Holz]). Tolstoy’s play, which was later performed by the Freie Bühne, particularly inspired Hauptmann to expand his realistic social drama to include not only the bourgeois hypocrisy that had been the subject of Ibsen’s dramas but also the lot of farmers and laborers. Until then the general public had gleaned its literary images of country life from the Dorfnovellen and Dorfromane (village novellas and novels) that had flourished since the 1830s. In selecting locales for his works Hauptmann returns frequently to rural life in Silesia, but he does not idealize it.
During his lifetime Hauptmann had forty-one plays published, and five more appeared posthumously. His plays can be divided into three categories: at least seven have remained uncontested as literary masterpieces; twenty-two have evoked some degree of favorable critical and popular response or maintain interest because of their historical importance; and seventeen have had relatively little popular or critical impact. While one might dispute the numbers in each category, one would certainly confer masterpiece status on Die Weber (published 1892; performed, 1893; translated as The Weavers, 1899), Der Biberpek (1893; translated as The Beaver Coat, 1912), Hannele Matterns Himmelfahrt (Hannele Mattern’s Ascension; published, 1893; performed as Hanneles Himmelfahrt, 1893; translated as Hannek, 1894), Fuhrmann Henschel (1899; translated as Drayman Henschel, 1910), Rose Bernd (1903; translated, 1913), Die Ratten, and Vor Sonnenuntergang (1932, Before Sundown). Five of these works appeared before 1906, the year Hauptmann’s seventeenth play, Und Pippa tanzt! (1906; translated as And Pippa Dances, 1909), was published. By this time Hauptmann had averaged one drama per year since his first appearance as a playwright. While he completed another twenty-nine stage works, every one of the plays through 1906 falls into one of the first two categories. Given Hauptmann’s succession of controversial or aesthetically interesting plays, the theatergoing public awaited with enthusiasm every new drama he wrote. Only infrequently did his audience leave the theater totally disappointed. Nonetheless, Hauptmann’s enduring fame depends primarily on the plays written by 1906. When Oxford University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1905, it confirmed that Hauptmann’s fame had become an international phenomenon.
Hauptmann’s first six plays conform to the general goal of naturalism: to show people as products of their heredity and milieu. Yet, Die Weber is both the extreme example of a supposedly strict adherence to such principles and also theatrically distinctive. In his lifetime Hauptmann was known not only as the foremost realist but also, more specifically, as the author of Die Weber. The naturalists had, from the beginning, denounced historical drama, a genre that dominated the serious stage following Schiller’s death in 1805. Die Weber portrays the life of Silesian weavers in the days leading up to their revolt on 3 June 1844, but it was considered by its first audiences a dramatization of almost contemporary events. The weavers’ revolt had been crushed by government troops after only a few days, and their situation had not changed by 1891, when Hauptmann completed the first version of his play. Various literary works had kept alive the memory of the revolt, and newspapers throughout Germany were still publishing articles on the misery of the weavers. True to the naturalist tendency toward ascertaining and reproducing all the sociopolitical details of a situation, Hauptmann traveled to the site of the revolt, where he spoke with survivors. He later recorded in “Zweites Vierteljahrhundert” (Second Quarter-Century), the unpublished continuation of Das Abenteuer meiner Jugend, his impressions of what he saw on these visits:
Der Menschheit ganzer Jammer, wie man sagt, faßte mich nicht zum ersten Male an. Ich hatte in dieser Beziehung, wie das Buch meiner Jugend beweist, schon in Salzbrunn vieles gesehen. Grimmiger Treffendes dann in Zürich unter den Kranken des Burghölzli, der Kantonalirrenanstalt. Was sich in diesen Weberhütten enthüllte, war, ich möchte sagen: das Elend in seiner klassischen Form.
(The entire suffering of humanity, as one says, did not seize me for the first time. In this connection I had, as the book of my youth proves, already seen much in Salzbrunn. More horribly moving things then in Zurich among the patients of Burghölzli, the Canton Insane Asylum. What was revealed in these huts of the weavers was, I would like to say, misery in its classical form.)
After recounting many details, he admits that he could never show the true depths of this misery in his play.
The censor, aware that the plight of the weavers was a live political issue, banned Hauptmann’s play as dangerous–first in its almost incomprehensible original version in the Silesian dialect, then in the second version, which, as a concession to the Berliners, was written according to Hauptmann in a dialect “dem Hochdeutschen angenähert” (approaching High German). The second version was performed by the Freie Bühne on 26 February 1893 and, after a court trial, elsewhere. A ban by the censor was not in itself remarkable; bans were often deliberately sought by the naturalists, who were intent on shocking contemporary audiences. What made–and still makes-Die Weber less political propaganda than a work of art is its aesthetic quality and its dramaturgical daring. There is no traditional “hero”; only one relatively minor character, who serves as a barometer for the rising emotional pressure among the weavers, appears in all five acts. The acts take place without any regard for the temporal and spatial limitations typical of most naturalist drama. At first glance, the play seems to consist of five individual one-act dramas, each with a different locale and with only occasionally recurring characters. Yet, there is more than thematic unity, for the play does have a hero: the weavers themselves as a collective. As in classical drama, the climax comes at the end of the third act, when one of the weavers says, “A jeder Mensch hat halt ‘ne Sehnsucht” (Everyone has something he yearns for). Almost every character, even those speaking only a few lines, comes across as an individual. Despite its subtle, underlying adherence to traditional dramaturgical principles, Die Weber, unlike classical drama, ends on a note of ambiguity befitting the naturalist commitment to a “slice of life” having neither a real beginning nor a true conclusion. Die Weber is probably the greatest mass drama in German literature and influenced all subsequent writers of such dramas, including the expressionists.
Hauptmann concludes his play on an ironic note that leaves the impression that the weavers will triumph, but everyone in his audience knew that the real weavers were quickly defeated and forced back into their former life. While Hauptmann portrays the revolt as unavoidable, the play cannot be interpreted as a call for another revolt–unless deeper changes occur first in the people themselves.
Nonetheless, Die Weber was considered by many to be virtually seditious. When it was publicly performed for the first time, Kaiser Wilhelm II canceled his loge at the Deutsches Theater. And when Hauptmann was suggested for the prestigious Schiller Prize in 1896 and again in 1899, Wilhelm personally rejected him both times. But Hauptmann had already exacted his revenge against the intolerance and stupidity of Wilhelminian officialdom with his masterful comedy Der Biberpelz, which uses as its heroine a washerwoman, Frau Wolff. Hauptmann changed his model, an honest worker, into a petty thief who first poaches, then takes home carelessly stored firewood, and finally steals and sells a beaver coat–progressively greater crimes that, because the victim is both wealthy and ludicrous, do not transgress the limits of a comedy. She commits these acts under the eyes of a local official, who is more concerned with the supposed danger of socialists, especially with one patently harmless character modeled after Hauptmann himself. The role of the thieving washerwoman is one of the most famous, and this comedy one of the most frequently performed, in German theatrical history.
The initial reaction to Der Biberpelz was far from auspicious. The censor’s office, substantiating Hauptmann’s low opinion of public officials, allowed the play to be presented only because it was considered too boring to have a long run. The first audience remained seated after the last curtain because they expected a fifth act in which Frau Wolff would be discovered and punished. But the comedy ends with the official’s reiteration of his belief in her innocence and good character and his reassertion of the danger of the suspected “socialist.”
Der Biberpelz was Hauptmann’s second comedy; the first was Kollege Crampton (performed 1892; published as College Crampton, 1892; translated as Colleague Crampton, 1914), a study of a drunken painter and teacher whose real-life counterpart Hauptmann had met in 1880 at the Breslau Art Academy. But the focus in the first comedy remained relatively narrow, and at the end the audience questions only the protagonist’s ability to fulfill his good resolutions, not the social and political background. In his second comedy Hauptmann expands the comic potential of naturalism beyond the depiction of individual characters. While Crampton is an outsider or even a victim, Frau Wolff asserts her mastery over her environment. Always one step ahead of other characters and able to manipulate them, Frau Wolff appears as the rogue figure of many traditional comedies. At the same time she is always a realistically portrayed individual with a specific background and discernible limitations.
It was not popular morality, with its desire to see this “thief” punished, but the dictates of realism that led Hauptmann to write a sequel, Der rote Hahn (1901; translated as The Conflagration, 1912)–but as a tragicomedy, not a comedy. In the sequel Hauptmann shows that Frau Wolff’s seemingly harmless, victimless crimes were motivated by capitalistic avarice; in the time since the end of the first play she has committed arson for profit. An innocent man is punished for her crime, but she refuses to confess. She dies at the end with the words: “Ma langt . . . Ma langt nach was” (One reaches . . . One reaches for something). Here is the culmination of Hauptmann’s vision of his characters as individuals obeying their own instincts, drives, and emotions to the end, for the final, truly criminal acts of Frau Wolff were already implied by her personality in Der Biberpelz. The sequel enjoyed neither the favorable critical reception nor the popularity of the original; but the consistency of thought and character connecting the two plays was noted by Bertolt Brecht, who tried to mold them into a single drama in his stage production Biberpelz und Roter Hahn (1951).
To many, Hanneles Himmelfahrt seemed to initiate Hauptmann’s break with naturalism. After Die Weber and Der Biberpelz, the lesser exponents of naturalism assumed that little else remained to be done technically and that subsequent works would distinguish themselves solely through new subjects and issues. Hanneles Himmelfahrt, however, reveals that Hauptmann had not abandoned the fundamental goals of naturalism but had expanded its artistic means.
The initial reception of Hanneles Himmelfahrt was not favorable. Paul Schlenther, one of the cofounders of the Freie Bühne and a close friend as well as first biographer of Hauptmann, commented that the overly pious members of the audience wanted to ascribe the play to the Social Democrats, while the Social Democrats found it too religious. The first of the two acts depicts in thoroughly naturalistic manner a poorhouse whose inhabitants take in the freezing girl Hannele; a victim of poverty and maltreatment by her drunken stepfather, she has attempted to drown herself. In the second act the audience shares in Hannele’s dream, in which Christ appears looking like her schoolteacher, and Hannele is prepared by angels for her wedding with him. At the end of the play the action returns to the real world, and the audience learns that Hannele has died.
Hauptmann incorporates in this play many aspects of the same literary tendencies–neo-Romanticism and Jfugendstil–that were developing as reactions against the naturalists’ exclusion of everything not recognized by science and their emphasis on the banal and ugly side of life. Hauptmann’s intention was to dramatize the creation of a work of art. In an April 1894 letter replying to one of his critics, Hauptmann asserted:
Wie das Märchen ist, suchte ich mir ein Aschenbrödel, um es, wiederum wie das Märchen tut, aus tiefstem Elend zu höchstem Glück zu führen. Gleich dem Märchen, welches nach Möglichkeit real zu sein versucht, suchte ich nun aber innerhalb des Märchenrahmens ebenfalls so viel mir möglich, real zu sein. . . . Das Kind stellte für mich gleichsam ein Stückchen des Urbodens dar, aus dem alle Religion und alle Poesie entkeimt ist.
(As in a fairy tale, I looked for a Cinderella in order to lead her, as a fairy tale does, out of the deepest misery to the highest happiness. Like the fairy tale, which tries as far as possible to be real, I now, however, likewise sought to be as real as possible within the framework of a fairy tale.... That child represented for me more or less a small piece of the mother earth from which all religions and all poetry have sprung.)
Hannele’s dream, to be sure, represents the extreme example of personal escapism; but a similar desire to manipulate and transcend reality motivates all poetic expression.
Hauptmann’s next attempt to dramatize such a line of thought, Die versunkene Glocke (performed, 1896; published, 1897; translated as The Sunken Bell, 1898), was more accessible to contemporary audiences. One of his most popular plays and the first one to earn a substantial amount of money for Hauptmann, Die versunkene Glocke, which bears the subtitle Ein deutsches Märchendrama (a German Fairy-Tale Drama) and is presented in verse, was its author’s concession to bourgeois taste and to the fashion set by Maeterlinck; it is considered today to be a weak work. Of far greater scope and of more lasting critical interest, however, is the still frequently puzzling Und Pippa tanzt!, which begins almost as naturalistically as Hanneles Himmelfahrt but allows its nonrealistic elements even more autonomy. In fact, its almost allegorical tendencies mark it as a forerunner of expressionist drama.
After moving in 1889 to Charlottenburg, another suburb of Berlin, Hauptmann made a trip in 1890 to Zurich, Italy, and Monaco; in 1891 he traveled to Silesia for studies for Die Weber. By this time he and his wife had three sons–Ivo, born in 1886; Eckart, born in 1887; and Klaus, born in 1889–and she had inherited enough money to make the family financially secure. In 1891 the Hauptmanns moved to Schreiberhau (now Szklarska Poreba, Poland) in Silesia. Hauptmann soon fell in love with the sister of Max Marschalk, the composer of the music for Hanneles Himmelfahrt and later for more of Hauptmann’s works. Hauptmann had met Margarete Marschalk in 1889, when she was fourteen. She had later studied violin under Joseph Joachim but for health reasons had had to give up a musical career. Hauptmann, who knew Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and other prominent musical figures, was undoubtedly drawn to Marschalk in part because of her musical talent. She reentered his life as a guest at the dinner Hauptmann gave after the premiere of Hanneles Himmelfahrt in September 1893. After spending the following days with her in Berlin, he returned to his wife and children, who had remained in Silesia. Hauptmann confessed his new love to his wife. He returned shortly thereafter to Berlin, where he saw Marschalk again. When he went to Paris for the opening of Hanneles Himmelfahrt there, Marie Hauptmann left for America, where she stayed with Ploetz in Meriden, Connecticut. Hauptmann hurried after her, and they reconciled. Hauptmann gained mostly unfavorable impressions of the United States. Shortly after the failure of Hanneles Himmelfahrt in New York on 1 May 1894, he returned with his family to Germany.
The reconciliation did not last long; but Marie Hauptmann refused to give the playwright a divorce, even though Marschalk gave birth to Hauptmann’s son Benvenuto on 1 June 1900. In the fall of that year Marie Hauptmann and the children moved into a house in Dresden that Hauptmann had built for them, and he moved with Marschalk into Wiesenstein, a house he had constructed for himself and his new family in Agnetendorf. Finally, in 1904, his wife divorced him, and in September of that year he married Marschalk.
In September 1905 he met a sixteen-year-old girl, Ida Orloff, who became a threat to the new marriage. Hauptmann broke off this affair in 1906 or 1907. But while there are few figures in his works reminiscent of Margarete Hauptmann, Orloff recurs frequently in his plays and fiction–sometimes in a positive, sometimes in a negative light–even long after he had stopped seeing her. One should not, however, ascribe such figures to her alone, for their occurrence in Hauptmann’s works coincides with the obsession of many Jugendstil and symbolist poets for the femme-enfant and femme fatale.
During these years Hauptmann suffered some artistic disappointments. The most notable came with the premiere of Florian Geyer (published, 1896; translated, 1929) on 4 January 1896. Although it has a “hero,” this play about the Peasant Wars of 1524–1525 has much in common with Die Weber; it represents one of the best attempts to write a thoroughly naturalistic drama on an historical subject remote in time. Hauptmann had begun his preliminary studies in 1891, while he was working on Die Weber; as in the case of Die Weber he went to the areas concerned, this time southern Germany. As a naturalist, Hauptmann always strove for a rigorously accurate phonetic reproduction of linguistic peculiarities and dialects, which allowed his audience to pinpoint the educational and social level and regional background of a character. Opinions vary on Hauptmann’s success in reproducing the language of the sixteenth century, but if he had not tried to reproduce it-including differentiations among the various characters and classes–then Florian Geyer would have been merely another costume piece, the type that the naturalists consciously rejected.
Moreover, the naturalist seeks the “complete” truth, not a “higher” or more poetic one. Hauptmann gathered an enormous amount of material on Geyer, his friends and enemies, and the times in general. Nonetheless, the play, admittedly not well staged or acted, was rejected by critics and public alike at its premiere. But in 1904 it was successfully performed with Rudolf Rittner in the title role, and thereafter it served as a vehicle for several other actors of stature.
Before 1906 Hauptmann created two more masterpieces, Fuhrmann Henschel and Rose Bernd. Both represent a refinement of naturalist technique rather than an expansion of it to previously untried subjects. At the same time, in both plays Hauptmann lets his audience feel that more than the forces of biological and sociological determinism produces the tragic outcome.
Fuhrmann Henschel portrays, against the background of the industrial and economic changes of the contemporary world, the unhappy marriage of a man to his former maid, a sexually active, domineering woman, after he promises his dying first wife that he will not marry the maid. Many contemporaries heard echoes in the play of the so-called fate tragedies of the early nineteenth century. But Hauptmann avoids the crudity of the emphasis in those plays on a vague concept of fate: his protagonist commits suicide only after the audience has seen him destroyed by his guilt, the changes in the socioeconomic world, and his unfaithful second wife. The tragedy, which premiered on 5 November 1898 in Berlin, was an immediate success there and in Paris, where André Antoine, founder of the “théâtre libre,” the model for the Freie Bühne, praised not only the presentation of the milieu but also the “clarity and sobriety” of the play. Many critics have subsequently likened it to Attic tragedy.
In 1897 and again in 1898 Hauptmann traveled to Italy, where he began several works on exotic subjects that, with the exception of material that was later integrated into Der arme Heinrich (1902, Poor Henry; translated as Henry of Auë, 1915) and Und Pippa tanzt!, never appeared on the stage. Another drama in a realistic manner, if not a great one, followed: Michael Kramer (1900; translated, 1914) was rejected at its premiere on 21 December 1900, although the fourth act, with Kramer’s almost lyrical comments on death, found admirers in Rainer Maria Rilke and Thomas Mann.
Then another masterpiece, Rose Bernd, premiered on 31 October 1903 in Berlin. Although the theme of an unmarried mother killing her child had been a favorite of the Sturm und Drang writers of the 1770s and had been given its most famous treatment by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Faust I (1808), Hauptmann’s direct inspiration can be found neither in the past nor in the contemporary naturalist concern for fallen or victimized women. Instead, it came from his participation as a juror from 15 to 17 April 1903 at the trial of a waitress accused of murdering her child.
A criticism made of virtually all of Hauptmann’s strongly realistic character dramas surfaced again in the case of Rose Bernd: that the play is too epic, that is, not “dramatic” enough. By 1903 the naturalist style of acting had dominated the stages of Germany for several years, and Rose Bernd seemed to many critics an anachronism. Moreover, despite the artistic liberties introduced by naturalism since 1889, the subject of Rose Bernd was still considered controversial enough for the play to be removed by royal order from the repertoire in Vienna.
Nevertheless, the tragedy gained in popularity and in 1919 became the first of Hauptmann’s plays to be filmed. Adaptations of many of his plays followed, but none of them contribute much toward an assessment of Hauptmann as a playwright. Almost without exception they take great liberties with his texts. Unlike Carl Zuckmayer, Brecht, and other playwrights, Hauptmann never wrote an original screenplay.
In 1907 Hauptmann traveled to Greece. The most immediate result of his sojourn there was his diary, Griechischer Frühling (1908, Grecian Spring). In later years many critics saw this work as a turning point in Hauptmann’s career, and one not in the right direction. Yet, what Hauptmann says in Griechischer Frühling about Greek tragedy obviously stems from seeing it through the eyes of a dramatist schooled in the perspective and expectations of naturalism: “Tragödie heiβt: Freund-schaft, Verfolgung, Haß und Liebe als Lebenswut! Tragödie heiβt: Angst, Not, Gefahr, Pein, Qual, Marter, heiβt Tücke, Verbrechen, Niedertracht, heiβt Mord, Blutgier, Blutschande, Schlächterei” (Tragedy means: friendship, persecution, hate and love as existential passion! Tragedy means: fear, misery, danger, anguish, torment, torture; means deception, crime, depravity; means murder, bloodthirstiness, incest, butchery). Hauptmann’s works reflecting the forms and themes of antiquity remained for a long time mainly nondramatic ones; his only play on a classical source to appear before his old age was Der Bogen des Odysseus (1914; translated as The Bow of Odysseus, 1917), which he began during this trip but completed only after much work. The long genesis produced a play that relies more on characterization and the bucolic than on Homer, from whom Hauptmann takes only the plot. Despite its originality, the play enjoyed only moderate success.
By 1907 Hauptmann had become financially successful, although, as his correspondence reveals, he spent all his income. Public honors became more frequent: after an honorary doctorate from Oxford in 1905, he received another from the University of Leipzig in 1909. The number and types of honors accorded to Hauptmann during the year of his fiftieth birthday attest to the continuing worldwide respect for his achievements as a playwright. All of these displays of international renown took place despite the diminishing favor that the plays premiered after 1903 had found among theatergoers and critics.
This lack of public success might well have prompted Hauptmann to write and publish his first two novels. Der Narr in Christo Emanuel Quint (1910; translated as The Fool in Christ Emanuel Quint, 1911) immediately found some detractors but also some equally engaged admirers, including George Bernard Shaw, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and the expressionist artist Franz Marc. Yet, sales remained modest until the appearance of a less expensive popular edition in 1916. Thereafter, its sales rose rapidly and remained high for many years. Any negative reception of the novel was not the result of Hauptmann’s artistic handling of the material, which was, in fact, generally praised. Instead, the depiction of a simpleminded man who tries to imitate Christ and who achieves a mystical union with the Savior in a dream was too religious for some readers, too scientific for others. Modern critics tend toward viewing the novel as a study in pathology. Still, Hauptmann gives the supernatural and spiritual an almost independent existence in some of his works. In his early years, Hauptmann began writing ‘Jesus-Studien” and left fragments of dramas about Christ. In the novel about the naive Quint, he shows his fidelity to the foundation of naturalism: its intention to limit representations of the world to what is scientifically verifiable. Yet, at the same time he shows himself capable of providing binding insights into an individual reality like the one in which a Thiel, Hannele, or Quint lives.
Hauptmann completed his second novel, Atlantis, in the winter of 1911–1912, and it appeared soon afterward in serial form in the newspaper Berliner Tageblatt. He made only minor corrections when it was published as a book in 1912. For his first novel, Hauptmann had historical models that provided him with experiences he could recount with detachment and empathy simultaneously. But in Atlantis he draws exclusively on scarcely disguised, painfully remembered events and persons in his own life (friends, as well as later works, revealed that his personal difficulties with his first wife had left Hauptmann with feelings of guilt that lasted for the rest of his life). It is therefore not surprising that the objectivity of the first novel is missing when he chronicles the story of Dr. Friedrich von Kammacher, who leaves his wife because of a sixteen-year-old dancer. When he sails with her on the ship Roland to America, he discovers how shallow the dancer is. The news of his wife’s suicide causes him to suffer a breakdown; but he regains his health with the help of the sculptress Eva Burns, who subsequently accompanies him back to Germany. The knowledgeable reader might try to ignore the embarrassing autobiographical details, but no one can ignore the flaws that this novel shares with so many that appeared in serialized installments: careless, hasty writing and structural looseness. Whatever popularity this weak novel enjoyed stemmed largely from the “prophetic” parallel between the sinking of the Roland and the collision of the Titanic with an iceberg in April 1912.
Hauptmann was frequently admired by and developed friendships with younger writers representing new literary movements, such as Hofmannsthal, Rilke, Mann, and Georg Kaiser; James Joyce is said to have learned German just to read Hauptmann. Invitations to lecture in major cities came frequently, and in 1912 Hauptmann received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Hauptmann’s receipt of the Nobel Prize could not have surprised anyone in Germany. More often than any other German writer since Goethe, he had already been praised, honored, and imitated by his contemporaries, a fact substantiated by the widespread celebrations of his fiftieth birthday, the most notable one taking place in November in Berlin and attended by many prominent literary figures. Still, after being asked in 1933 by the Copenhagen newspaper Ekstra Bladet for an article on the Nobel Prize, Hauptmann wrote in his response (found in his estate) that when the prizes were first established, he could not envision himself ever being among the recipients of one. He goes on to say that the award provided him with an inestimable motivation that stemmed not only from its material benefits but also from the people who had suggested him and those who had conferred it on him. His life, he continues, acquired a new Widerstandskraft (power of resistance) that he would subsequently need in Italy, which his newly acquired freedom opened up to him for all times. He mentions, however, no political transformation brought about by the award. In his banquet speech in Stockholm, his mention of world peace as a shared goal could be dismissed as a strictly formulaic acknowledgment of Alfred Nobel’s ideals. But Hauptmann’s next stage of work was in undeniable harmony with such ideals as well as with his own convictions.
During this time his published works were mainly in fiction, and up to the advent of the Nazi dictatorship his stage triumphs became increasingly rare and never duplicated those before 1906. He could, nevertheless, still create controversy. For example, he was commissioned to write a festival play to commemorate the centenary of the Wars of Liberation in 1813. The result, Festspiel in deutschen Reimen (1913, Festival Performance in German Rhymes; translated as Commemoration Masque, 1917), applied not the expected blind reverence but a note of irony toward the revered figures of German history and caused a scandal. Nonetheless, at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Hauptmann joined other writers in composing patriotic poems. While Hauptmann’s attitudes and statements frequently contradict each other, on balance he is usually patriotic but not nationalistic or sycophantic toward the rulers.
In the years between Rose Bernd and World War I, Hauptmann wrote another truly great work for the stage, a tragicomedy that perhaps remains his most “modern” play. Die Ratten is the most complex and subtle play in Hauptmann’s canon. Its main plot is strongly naturalistic: Frau John, a cleaning woman who lives in a rat-infested former barracks, adopts the illegitimate child of a Polish maid but convinces her husband, a bricklayer, that she has given birth to it. She is discovered despite her brother’s murder of the true mother and commits suicide. The time of the play is 1884–1885–that is, before the theatrical breakthrough of naturalism with Vor Sonnenaufgang–and a second plot revolves around the acting school of Hassenreuter, which is housed in the same building. It provides an ironic, largely comic foil to the plot about Frau John. Hassenreuter, who is something of a philanderer, provides a sharp contrast to the cleaning woman, who tries to attain middle-class stability and happiness in her marriage but is driven to suicide by her husband’s inflexible attitude toward her “crime.” Hassenreuter is an exponent of Schiller’s classical, declamatory style of acting. His opponent in a series of arguments is his student Spitta, who advocates more reality–the naturalism that soon put such people as Frau John on the stage as tragic heroes and heroines. Neither Hassenreuter nor Spitta notices that Frau John’s plight has all the qualities of a tragedy in both the naturalistic and the classical senses, and they remain as ludicrous in their theoretical arguments as Frau John remains tragic in her real life. Die Ratten represents a reckoning both with the forces that made naturalism necessary and with the ultimate impotence of the naturalist as a reformer.
Few plays are recognized immediately as having the qualities of lasting greatness, and Die Ratten was no exception. After Hauptmann gained a court decision against a petty objection by the censor, the premiere took place on 13 January 1911 in Berlin. The reaction was subdued. Even Alfred Kerr, one of the most perceptive theater critics, an exponent of naturalism, and an enthusiastic supporter of Hauptmann, had little to say about Die Ratten that was good. But five years later, when the play was performed again, another critic, Siegfried Jacobsohn, wrote in the periodical Die Schaubühne: “Kritik ist Selbskritik. Weswegen bin ich 1911 vor diesen Ratten durchgefallen?” (Criticism is self-criticism. Why did I flop in 1911 when confronted by Die Ratten?). In retrospect, it can be seen that the cause of the rejection in 1911 is the very “modernity” and relevance of Die Ratten: its complex intertwining of the tragic and comic and its ironic, disquieting view of human existence and social values.
During World War I Hauptmann wrote little of note for the stage. When peace came in 1918, Hauptmann welcomed it; the following year he also welcomed the Weimar Republic, which, in turn, lionized him to an extent previously unknown in Germany or elsewhere. His sixtieth and seventieth birthdays became events of national importance. Honorary doctorates from the German University in Prague in 1921 and Columbia University in 1932 show that his fame grew in foreign countries as well.
During these years, Hauptmann devoted much of his energy to nondramatic genres. At the end of World War I he published Der Ketzer von Soana (1918; translated as The Heretic of Soana, 1923), which some critics consider his best prose work. More than 300,000 copies were sold by the end of the 1950s. Such success, though not repeated by the subsequent novels, must have provided Hauptmann with some measure of consolation for the unfavorable receptions of his dramas being premiered during this period.
The “heretic” in this novel is the young Catholic priest Francesco Velda, who succumbs to the beauty of Agata and to the pagan lifestyle of her family living in isolation from society. He comes to recognize that the power of nature, Eros, and the Dionysian pleasures are greater than religious dogma. His action is intended to be seen as an affirmation of life in all of its fullness. Many critics view the effect of Hauptmann’s experience in Greece as the driving force in his unconcealed extolling of paganism in this work, which, begun in 1911, could also be interpreted as establishing an antipode to the values underlying Der Narr in Christo Emanuel Quint.
A relatively large amount of narrative prose followed, but, with the exception of a couple of novellas, it did little to enhance or even sustain Hauptmann’s reputation, which nonetheless remained that of Germany’s greatest writer. At best, his prose output broadened understanding of how wide-ranging his talent was; even among the less distinguished novels there is great diversity. In Phantom, (published as a book in 1923, after serial publication in the Berliner Illustrierte) Lorentz Labota, who has served a prison sentence, relates how he became a criminal. Public interest proved to be moderate, and despite praise for the author’s handling of Labota’s personality and even occasional comparisons of Hauptmann’s protagonist with Mann’s Felix Krull, this novel has awakened relatively little critical interest. Some of the late novellas, however, have retained a readership.
Of the published novels, one more is noteworthy because it bridges Hauptmann’s prose and drama. Between 1925 and 1936 Hauptmann was intensely preoccupied with William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He wrote an original play, Hamlet in Wittenberg (1935), which portrays the years before the beginning of Shakespeare’s play. He also wrote an adaptation of the Shakespeare play (performed, 1927; published, 1929) and a novel, Im Wirbel der Berufung (1936, Following My Calling), about staging the play. The purpose of all of these works was to show that Hamlet could not have been as passive and indecisive as he seems to be in Shakespeare’s play. Critical reception of the Hamlet works was unfavorable.
During the 1920s, when–if not verifiably because–his new dramas were encountering little popular enthusiasm, Hauptmann returned to the verse epic. The majority of these poems–Anna: Ein ländliches Liebesgedicht (1921, Anna: A Rural Love Poem), Die blaue Blume (1927, The Blue Flower), Mary (which appeared in its final version in the verse collection Ährenlese [1939, The Gleaning]), and Der groβe Traum (1942, The Great Dream), which Hauptmann called his “Vermächtnis” (bequest)–have few readers today, and then mainly among scholars. Yet, the lengthiest of the verse epics, Des groβen Kampffliegers, Landfahrers, Gauklers und Magiers Till Eulenspiegel Abenteuer, Streiche, Gaukelein, Gesichte und Träume (1928, The Adventures, Pranks, Tricks, Visions and Dreams of the Great Combat Pilot, Vagabond, Trickster, and Magician Till Eulenspiegel) deserves mention, if only because its content is so timely but its form so remarkable. The voluminous title resembles those of novels in the Baroque period, from which its Alexandrine verse has been lifted. Yet, Hauptmann’s epic has nothing to do with either the Baroque period or with the “pranks” and time of the legendary Till Eulenspiegel, who supposedly died around 1350 and became the subject of chapbooks in 1515 and 1519. In Hauptmann’s own time, this character had already been immortalized in the music of Strauss in 1890. Like Christian Dietrich Grabbe in the early nineteenth century, Hauptmann originally wanted to write a drama about this “rascal” but never got beyond fragments. The protagonist of his epic poem is a modern flier from World War I who experiences much of the turmoil of the years immediately thereafter, and, as the “eternal German” who can be seen simultaneously as a fool and a Faust, eventually commits suicide. Always in need of money, Hauptmann sought and received an enormous advance for this epic, but despite great efforts by his publisher, not even the rather modest first edition was sold out. To this day the three questions raised by the initial critics are still being contested: How good and appropriate is the verse? How successfully does this work capture the “modern” world that it obviously wants to interpret? And what is the meaning of the mythological and legendary allusions? While the work was a financial catastrophe, its artistic merits have yet to be established.
Hauptmann’s last unquestionably great and popular play, Vor Sonnenuntergang, which premiered in the midst of his Hamlet studies on 16 February 1932, grew out of an interest in another Shakespearean play. Hauptmann had set out to write a new King Lear, but soon the play embraced a multitude of other influences and stimuli. Vor Sonnenuntergang portrays the family conflicts that arise when Matthias Clausen, a dignified, cultured, and sensitive man of seventy, falls in love with his gardener’s niece, Inken Peters, fifty years his junior. The main parallels to King Lear stem from the opposition of Clausen’s sons and daughters to this union, which they oppose for financial reasons. In the printed version there is a fifth act in which Clausen commits suicide, but in the premiere and in many subsequent performances he dies of a heart attack in the fourth act.
The model for Matthias Clausen was Max Pinkus, a bibliophile and longtime friend of the author. Clausen quotes Goethe, has named his children after Goethe or Goethe’s characters or friends, and is celebrating his seventieth birthday on the hundredth anniversary of Goethe’s death. Moreover, everyone in the audience at the premiere probably remembered that the seventy-three-year-old Goethe had fallen in love with an eighteen-year-old girl. These parallels and allusions to Goethe are intended to reinforce the impression of Clausen as the last representative of a bygone concept of culture and humanism.
Vor Sonnenuntergang had its premiere the year before Adolf Hitler became chancellor. The more perceptive writers did not have to wait until the Nazis had actually assumed power to predict the manner and consequences of their rule. For example, in Mann’s Mario und der Zauberer (1930; translated as Mario and the Magician, 1930) the stage technique of the demonic magician Cipolla shows great similarity to Hitler’s observations on political rallies in Mein Kampf (1925–1926, My Struggle). Also in 1932 Brecht was already working on his anti-Nazi play Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe (1957; translated as Roundheads and Peakheads, 1966). In his novella Mann proves himself to be especially adept in evoking the atmosphere that breeds a Cipolla and allows him to succeed. In the same way, Hauptmann’s minor figures in Vor Sonnenuntergang represent an entire society’s role in bringing about the “sundown” of traditional forms of family relationships and cultural values.
The “sundown” in the title of the play obviously alludes to Hauptmann’s first success, which came just before a “dawn.” On 20 July 1933, not quite five months after the burning of the Reichstag and less than a week after the creation of a one-party state in Germany, Hauptmann said to C. F. W. Behl: “Meine Epoche beginnt mit 1870 und endigt mit dem Reichstagsbrand” (My epoch begins with 1870 [the establishment of the Second Reich] and ends with the burning of the Reichstag). In other words, his time, the time that understood and revered culture, was over. Even if its prophetic implications had not been fulfilled through the dictatorship of the Nazis, Vor Sonnenuntergang would still capture the atmosphere of an era that bred radical opponents of traditional cultural values.
Many Jews and intellectuals left Germany in 1933 and the following years. But Hauptmann, who had turned seventy in 1932, felt himself too old to follow their lead. His remaining in Germany, his “inner emigration,” subjected him to attacks from exiles such as his old friend Kerr. Even today this issue is occasionally raised as a stigma on his reputation. Hauptmann’s attitude toward the new rulers can, however, be inferred from their policy toward him: he and his works were relegated to the status of museum pieces. Hauptmann did not publish a single artistic work that could be called an homage to the new masters.
Hauptmann and his wife were the only Gentiles at the funeral of his Jewish friend Pinkus in 1934. Although Pinkus had been the model for the protagonist of Vor Sonnenuntergang, Hauptmann had ignored Pinkus’s Jewishness in the play–even though Hauptmann had long wanted to write a drama about the mysteries of Judaism. In 1937 he finally accomplished this goal with Die Finsternisse (The Darknesses), which was inspired by Pinkus’s funeral. In the last year of the war Hauptmann, fearing a police search, had the manuscript burned. But a copy found its way to the United States, where it was published in 1947 by Walter A. Reichart; it was first performed in 1952. Dramatically, this work leaves much to be desired; but it is an eloquent statement of Hauptmann’s humanity. This play about a Jewish funeral documents not only Hauptmann’s lifelong preoccupation with the “Magie des Todes” (magic of death) but also his increasing tendency toward religious mysticism and interest in a “Zwischenreich” (middle kingdom between the real and mythical worlds).
During the Nazi years Hauptmann wrote a couple of minor stage works and some fiction. Then, almost eighty years old, he made one last great effort as a dramatist. This last creative surge began with Iphigenie in Delphi (1941). His inspiration was a passage in Goethe’s Italienische Reise (1816–1817; translated as Travels in Italy, 1846) describing how Goethe would have written a sequel to his Iphigenie auf Tauris (1800; translated as Iphigenia on Tauris, 1851). But Hauptmann’s Iphigenia, although she sacrifices herself to atone for the crimes committed by the house of Atreus, bears little resemblance to the Goethean personification of the all-too-human. Goethe adhered to J. J. Winckelmann’s concept of Greek culture and art as representative of “edle Einfalt und stille Größe” (noble simplicity and quiet grandeur). Hauptmann, on the other hand, remains true to what he said about Greek tragedy in Griechischer Frühling: that regardless of how it might be disguised, a human sacrifice is “die blutige Wurzel der Tragödie” (the bloody root of tragedy). Nonetheless, Iphigenie in Delphi ends on a conciliatory note, with the crimes of Agamemnon, Orestes, Klytemnestra, and Electra expiated. This outcome seems to be consistent with Goethe’s view that in his Iphigenie auf Tauris pure humanity atones for all human feelings.
Once he had completed his play, Hauptmann felt compelled to portray the events for which Iphigenia atones. He completed Iphigenie in Aulis (performed, 1943; published, 1944) in 1943, Agamemnons Tod (Agamemnon’s Death; performed, 1947; published, 1948) in 1944, and Elektra (performed, 1947; published, 1948) in 1945 as the first three parts of a tetralogy. Of all the plays in the tetralogy, Iphigenie in Aulis, the second to be written but first in terms of the chronology of the plot, proved the most difficult for Hauptmann to complete and exists in the greatest number of manuscript versions; the two one-act dramas that fill out the intervening action of the tetralogy followed rather quickly. Hauptmann needed so long to finish Iphigenie in Aulis because he was freeing himself of Goethe’s influence and rethinking the implications of the legend within the framework of his own conception of Greek tragedy.
No critic has denied that the tetralogy represents a remarkable accomplishment for any playwright, especially for one in his eighties. But this observation has been the sole point of general agreement. Critics have condemned the language, the lack of dramatic qualities, and the naturalistic approach to the characters. The most damning criticism concerns the obvious differences in tone and in underlying attitude toward the human condition between Iphigenie in Delphi, which is usually interpreted as optimistic, and the three subsequently written parts, which take an essentially pessimistic view of the human ability to avert or rectify disaster.
Many critics see in the tetralogy Hauptmann’s reckoning with the Nazi dictatorship and the war it brought about; in 1962 the director Erwin Piscator tried to stage the tetralogy (in much shortened form) as a symbolic representation of Nazi rule. But the texts themselves refute any direct equations of individual characters with contemporary historical personages. One can also demonstrate that Hauptmann was most interested in the Greek legend in itself, not as a vehicle for expressing essentially modern views.
When World War II ended, Gerhart Hauptmann was a broken, tired man, although the Russians occupying Silesia treated the author of Die Weber with respect. He died on 6 June 1946 and was buried on the island of Hiddensee, where he had spent some of the most enjoyable times of his life and had, in 1930, bought the house “Seedorn” in Kloster. There are now Hauptmann museums in Kloster and Erkner maintained by the German government.
Gerhart Hauptmann und Ida Orloff: Dokumentation einer dichterischen Leidenschaft (Berlin: Propyläen, 1969);
Walter A. Reichart, “Gerhart Hauptmann and His British Friends: Documented in Some of Their Correspondence,” German Quarterly, 50 (November 1977): 424-451;
Klaus Bohnen, “Briefwechsel zwischen Gerhart Hauptmann und Georg Brandes,” Jahrbuch der deutschen Schiller-Gesellschaft, 23 (1979), 55–68;
Klaus W. Jonas, “Gerhart Hauptmann und Hans von Seeckt: Erinnerungen eines Sammlers und Bibliographen. Mit unveröffentlichten Briefen,” Imprimatur, 9 (1980): 216-239;
Gerhart Hauptmann–Ludwig von Hofmann: Briefwechsel 1894–1944, edited by Herta Hesse-Frielinghaus (Bonn: Bouvier, 1983);
Otto Brahm–Gerhart Hauptmann: Briefwechsel 1889–1912, edited by Peter Sprengel (Tübingen: Narr, 1985).
H. D. Tschörtner, ed., Gespräche und Interviews mit Gerhart Hauptmann (1894–1946) (Berlin: Schmidt, 1984).
Max Pinkus and Viktor Ludwig, Gerhart Hauptmann: Werke von ihm und über ihn (Neustadt: Schlesien, 1922; revised by Ludwig, 1932);
Walter Requardt, Gerhart Hauptmann Bibliographie, 3 volumes (Berlin: Selbstverlag, 1931);
C. F. W. Behl, “Gerhart Hauptmann-Bibliographie,” Gerhart Hauptmann-Jahrbuch, 1 (1936): 147–162; 2 (1937): 150–160;
Walter A. Reichart, “Fifty Years of Hauptmann Study in America (1894–1944): A Bibliography,” Monatshefte,37 (1945): 1-31; 54 (1962): 297-310;
Reichart, “Bibliographie der gedruckten und ungedruckten Dissertationen über Gerhart Hauptmann und sein Werk,” Philobiblon, 11 (June 1967): 121-134;
Reichart, Gerhart-Hauptmann-Bibliographie (Bad Hornburg: Gehlen, 1969);
Klaus W. Jonas, “Gerhart Hauptmanns Manuskripte in Europa,” Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel, 26 (28 July 1970): A121-A139;
Jonas, “Gerhart Hauptmann Collections in America and England,” Stechert-Hafner Book News, 26 (February 1971): 77–82;
H. D. Tschörtner, Gerhart-Hauptmann-Bibliographie (Berlin: Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, 1971);
Rudolf Ziesche, Der Manuskriptnachlaβ Gerhart Hauptmanns (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1977);
Sigfrid Hoefert, Internationale Bibliographie zum Werk Gerhart Hauptmann, 2 volumes (Berlin: Schmidt, 1986–1989);
Hoefert, “Gerhart Hauptmann: Nachträge zur Internationalen Bibliographie (III),” Schlesien, 4 (1994): 234-244.
Paul Schlenther, Gerhart Hauptmann: Sein Lebensgang und seine Dichtung (Berlin: Fischer, 1898; revised, 1912; revised by A. Eloesser, 1922);
C. F. W. Behl and F. A. Voigt, Chronik von Gerhart Hauptmanns Leben und Schaffen (Munich: Korn, 1957);
Wolfgang Leppmann, Gerhart Hauptmann: Leben, Werk und Zeit (Munich: Scherz, 1986).
E. Bialek, E. Tomiczek, and M. Zybura, eds., Leben– Werk–Lebenswerk: Ein Gerhart Hauptmann-Gedenkband (Liegnitz: Orbis Linguarum, 1997);
Roy C. Cowen, Hauptmann-Kommentar zum dramatischen Werk (Munich: Winkler, 1980);
Cowen, Hauptmann-Kommentar zum nichtdramatischen Werk (Munich: Winkler, 1981);
Cowen, Der Naturalismus: Kommentar zu einer Epoche (Munich: Winkler, 1973);
Peter Delvaux, Leid soil lehren: Historische Zusammehänge in Gerhart Hauptmanns Atriden-Tetralogie (Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi, 1994);
C. T. Dussère, “The Image of the Primitive Giant in the Work of Gerhart Hauptmann (Stuttgart: Heinz, 1979);
Gustav Erdmann, Der bekannte und unbekannte Gerhart Hauptmann: Ausgewätze (Schwerin: Helms, 2000);
Erdmann, ed., Gerhart Hauptmann: Neue Akzente–neue Aspekte (Berlin: Stapp, 1992);
Ullrich Erdmann, Vom Naturalismus zum Nationalsozialismus? Zettgeschichtlich-biographische Studien zu Max Halbe, Gerhart Hauptmann, Johannes Schlaf und Hermann Stehr (Frankfurt: Lang, 1997);
Hugo F. Garten, “Formen des Eros im Werk Gerhart Hauptmanns,” Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, 90 (1971): 242–258;
Garten, Gerhart Hauptmann (Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes, 1954);
Charles F. Good, Domination, Dependence, Denial and Despair: Father-Daughter Relationships in Grillparzer, Hebbel and Hauptmann (New York: Peter Lang, 1993);
Karl S. Guthke, Gerhart Hauptmann: Weltbild im Werk (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980);
Klaus Hildebrandt, Naturalistische Dramen Gerhart Hauptmanns (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1983);
Hildebrandt and Krzystof A. Kuczynski, eds., Weggefährten Gerhart Hauptmanns (Würzburg: Korn, 2002);
Eberhard Hilscher, Gerhart Hauptmann (Berlin: Verlag der Nation, 1988);
Sigfrid Hoefert, Gerhart Hauptmann (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1982);
Hoefert, Gerhart Hauptmann und der Film (Berlin: Schmidt, 1996);
K. G. Knight and F. Norman, eds., Hauptmann Centenary Lectures (London: University of London Institute of Germanic Studies, 1964);
Krzystof A. Kuczynski and Peter Sprengel, eds., Gerhart Hauptmann–Autor des Jahrhunderts (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1991);
Ward B. Lewis, “O’Neill and Hauptmann: A Study in Mutual Admiration,” Comparative Literature Studies, 22 (Summer 1985): 231–243;
Thomas Mann, Gerhart Hauptmann (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1953);
Alan Marshall, The German Naturalists and Gerhart Hauptmann (Frankfurt am Main & Bern: Peter Lang, 1982);
Friedhelm Marx, Gerhart Hauptmann (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1998);
Peter Mast, ed., “Es steckt Ungehobenes in meinem Werk . . .”: Zur Bedeutung Gerhart Hauptmanns für unsere Zeit (Bonn: Kulturstiftung der deutschen Vertriebenen, 1993);
Warren R. Maurer, Gerhart Hauptmann (Boston: Twayne, 1982);
Hans Mayer, Gerhart Hauptmann (Velber bei Hannover: Friedrich, 1972);
Edward Mcinnes, German Social Drama 1840–1900: From Hebbel to Hauptmann (Stuttgart: Heinz, 1976);
Philip Mellen, Gerhart Hauptmann and Utopia (Stuttgart: Heinz, 1976);
Mellen, Gerhart Hauptmann: Religious Syncretism and Eastern Religions (Bern, Frankfurt am Main & New York: Peter Lang, 1984);
Gerdt Oberembt, Gerhart Hauptmann: Der Biberpelz (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna & Zurich: Schöningh, 1987);
Oberembt, Grofsstadt, Landschaft, Augenblick: Über die Tradition von Motiven im Werk Gerhart Hauptmanns (Berlin: Schmidt, 1999);
John Osborne, The Naturalist Drama in Germany (Manchester: Manchester University Press / Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1971);
Jill Perkins, Joyce and Hauptmann: Before Sunrise (San Marino, Cal.: Huntington Library Press, 1978);
Jörg Platiel, Mythos und Mysterium: Die Rezeption des Mittelalters im Werke Gerhart Hauptmanns (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1993);
Walter A. Reichart, Ein Leben für Gerhart Hauptmann: Aufsätze aus den Jahren 1929–1990 (Berlin: Schmidt, 1991);
Ilse H. Reis, Gerhart Hauptmanns Hamlet-Lnterpretationen in der Nachfolge Goethes (Bonn: Bouvier, 1969);
Walter Requardt and Martin Machatzke, Gerhart Hauptmann und Erkner (Berlin: Schmidt, 1980);
Yeong-Don Roh, Gerhart Hauptmann und die Frauen: Studien zum naturalistischen Werk (Siegen: Böschen, 1998);
Daria Santini, Gerhart Hauptmann zwischen Modernität und Tradition: Neue Perspektiven zur Atriden-Tetralogie (Berlin: Schmidt, 1998);
Barbara Schmidt-Krayer, Kontinuum der Reflexion: Der arme Heinrich: Mittelalterliches Epos Hartmanns von Aue und modernes Drama Gerhart Hauptmanns (Göppingen: Kümmerle, 1994);
Peter Sprengel, Gerhart Hauptmann: Epoche-Werk-Wirkung (Munich: Beck, 1984);
Sprengel, Von Luther zu Bismarck: Kulturkampf und nationale Identität bei Theodor Fontane, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer und Gerhart Hauptmann (Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 1999);
Sprengel, Die Wirklichkeit der Mythen: Untersuchungen zum Werk Gerhart Hauptmanns aufgrund des handschriftlichen Nachlasses (Berlin: Schmidt, 1982);
Sprengel and Philip Mellen, eds., Hauptmann-Forschung: Neue Beiträge–Hauptmann Research: New Directions (Bern, Frankfurt am Main & New York: Peter Lang, 1986);
TEXT + KRITIK, special Hauptmann issue, edited by Arnold Heinz Ludwig, 142 (April 1999);
H. D. Tschörtner, “Bertolt Brecht und Hauptmann,” Weimarer Beiträge, 32, no. 3 (1986): 386–403;
Tschörtner, Ungeheures erhofft: Zu Gerhart Hauptmann–Werk und Wirkung (Berlin: Der Morgen, 1986);
Felix A. Voigt, Gerhart-Hauptmann-Studien 1934–1958 (Berlin: Schmidt, 1999);
Voigt and Reichart, Hauptmann und Shakespeare (Breslau: Maruschke & Berendt, 1938; revised, Goslar: Deutsche Volksbücherei, 1947);
Bernhard Zeller, ed., Gerhart Hauptmann: Leben und Werk: Eine Gedächtnisausstellung des Deutschen Literaturarchivs zum 100. Geburtstag des Dichters (Stuttgart: Turmhaus-Druckerei, 1962).
Manuscript materials of Gerhart Hauptmann are at the Staatsbibliothek Preuβischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin.